Artist’s process

28 12 2018

When I delivered the final diptych to the framer yesterday for the January 5-27 art exhibit “Fiery Volcano Collages & Doodles” at Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden Lecture Room, Malinda of Sunshine Arts asked an interesting question: How long did it take you to make the collages? Thinking back, I started them in May when the most recent volcanic activity began and worked non-stop until now. That means I made an average of one diptych (two panels) a month. Most are big. Whew, no wonder I’m tired!

“From Haleakalā”
40” x 30” both panels of diptych. Hand-dyed tissue paper collage. Volcano series by Rebekah Luke

If you go: Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden Visitor Center Lecture Room is located on Luluku Road in Kāneʻohe between Pali and Likelike highways. Open daily from 9 to 4.

The energy of collaboration

5 03 2012

So, dear reader, the new energy I’m talking about has to do with the comings and goings of new friends and old friends at the studio—my healing space, my brick-and-mortar studio, and a unique gallery space.

In February I held a Reiki Level I training class in the Unlimited Reiki System of Natural Healing with Reiki Master Teacher Lori A. Wong, who attuned and certified three students. The island country setting is well suited for meditation. We plan to continue with Level II and Master Level training. What a day. Wow. When we channel Reiki, or universal life force energy, we heal, harmonize, and balance our minds, bodies, spirits and emotions! It was great!

I also started teaching adults how to oil paint, after the method my own teachers Vicky Kula and Gloria Foss taught me, and everyone is enjoying it. My students, just three ladies for now, attend class once a week for most of the day. (Although I promoted both offerings widely, three seems to be the magic number from the Universe. ;-))

Studio painters

With the combined lecture/demo, hands-on painting assignment, homework and critique each time—starting with the basics and then having each lesson build upon the previous learned knowledge—they understand there is a lot to learning to paint.

I, myself, am enjoying the refresher from developing lesson plans and doing the assignments. I don’t have all the answers, but the students are very clever and are full of new ideas. We laugh a lot, and I learn from them too. A bonus: They bring food and recipes for lunch, and, believe me, they can cook!

I’m happy to share what I know how to do. It’s surprising that it has taken so long for me to have enough confidence to do this. I think I just wanted to be sure I could do it well.

Pi‘ikea and Vicky relax in front of “Morning Destination: Kalaeokaoio Beach” — Photo by Rebekah Luke

Yesterday’s open house event of a renovated Kailua home that is on the market was a chance to see 15 of my paintings displayed in a residential setting.

The students came and brought lots of good energy to the property. It is a different experience to see an original oil painting up close and properly framed and hanging rather than to see a reproduction.

The colors are true. One can view paint strokes and textures. It is easier to imagine what the art piece will look like in your own home or office.

Other fans of Rebekah’s Studio came to support the collaborative project efforts of Realtor Associates Ruth Sinclair and Karyn Shaunnessy who invited me to be their guest artist.

Me and members of my fan club at the special showing, left to right: Noella, Rochelle, me, Pat, Karen, and Pi‘ikea. The lei po‘o (the beautiful yellow floral wreath of native and tropical flowers on my head) is a gift from Vicky, and the sweet white ginger lei is from Nani (who came earlier and left before the photo op). — Photo by Karyn Shaunnessy

Collaborators (from left) Ruth Sinclair, Rebekah Luke, and Karyn Shaunnessy. — Photo by James H. Kim On Chong-Gossard

Copyright 2012 Rebekah Luke

Lifelong learning about my art process

10 08 2010

Kaaawa Valley Morning

Some things take a long time. Waiting for an oil painting to dry is one of them. Here is “Kaaawa Valley Morning.” I painted it in May and varnished it this week. It’s already sold to a happy family waiting patiently to hang it in their home!

Oil paint takes at least three months to dry. A painted canvas should be bone dry before adding a protective varnish coat, for best results. So when commissioning an original painting, allow at least six months for delivery. That would be the technical aspect. As for the practical aspect, each artist has his/her own process that varies from artist to artist. Perhaps plan on a little longer.

Last Thursday I was happy to see Kit Kowalke, among other lovely friends, at our art reception at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden. I first met Kit, an artist and art educator, when she was teaching at Honolulu Community College and I was in university relations. She was always cheerful, always a pleasure to be around, always sharing and helpful, always fun! And she still is.

She asked what medium, I said oil, she asked how do I paint, I said one at a time. That is, I like to finish one painting before starting another. And that my paintings take a long time to dry. Oil painters often switch to acrylic because the medium dries quickly, and they can get their work out on the market faster. Personally, I’ve been partial to oil because of the way the colors mix and look.

What I didn’t say was that I don’t like the state of unfinished-ness, or that unfinished projects are stressful to me.

“Oh!” Kit told me, “no need to paint one at a time, you can paint more than one at a time. Like two or three.”

“I can?!” 😕

“Yes!” she said. “Sometimes you might want to let an oil dry before painting on it some more. While you wait, start another one. Go back and forth.”

Well, that’s a perspective I’ll consider. And, I think that will ease my stress over things like unfinished home and garden remodeling projects. I can think of them as works in progress!

She asked more questions and gave me more tips, even volunteered which classes and workshops I could attend nearby. Which is what my intention was when I first left art school—to regularly keep my eye in training by always taking part in a studio class.

It is the advice given also by my tai chi sifu Alex Dong, who advocates not waiting until you have mastered a set before learning a new one because there are aspects of each set that help in understanding other sets. Or, (my interpretation) you will always be improving on the basics. Clicking on the above link to his website takes you to his journal article about the subject.

Somewhat similarly, when I was taking beginning kumidaiko (Japanese ensemble drumming) lessons and had an interest in composing, I asked the master Kenny Endo at what level one could start composing. How long must I study taiko before I would have enough knowledge to write drum music? He replied he believed one could start composing at any level.

Some things to think about. In my case, they still may take time because that’s my process. So far.

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

Quite a few images are ready to leave the studio; these paintings are dry!  See my PAINTINGS page. If you are on Oahu, visit the art show at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden during August 2010. Please see my previous post about seven artists.

Changing it up and the alumni art show

6 06 2010

Before releasing students for the holiday break from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where I received intense training in photography, the head administrator sat us down for a little chat.

He advised putting the camera away and treating ourselves to viewing and experiencing other forms of art for inspiration and stimulation.

The program was such that one’s creative juices were pretty much dried up by the end of the term. Five studio courses, 10 concurrent assignments due in two weeks at any given time, photo lab work until 10 pm six nights a week, and frank critiques. If one attended fresh out of high school with no college academics, then those classes were mandatory at night in addition.

Why, you might wonder, did I pick this school, in my 30s even. Because I admired several of its alumni who mentored me when I worked alongside them at the magazine. They were professional photographers at the top of their game, and I came to realize their training influenced the way they were, not just as photographers but as people.

To write blog posts, I like to examine any ongoing themes in my life. I wonder, is now a time for reorganizing? Remembering the art school advice to change it up, today I’m taking stock and reporting the other art forms I’ve experience in the past month or so.

A trip to the lighting showroom. I’m conscious of light: the amount of light, its direction, its quality. Lighting was not my strong suit in art school in that lighting a scene or set with artificial light was challenging. I did learn enough to recognize lighting differences, though I couldn’t always execute them, and I learned the lingo. I know what I like and don’t like about light, and I can tell you why. When I learned to paint, I learned more about the logic of light.

This month, after living a long time dissatisfied with a certain light bulb and dated fixture where I live, I am ecstatic that DH agreed to let the professionals fix the lighting deficiencies and non-design in our home. A trip to the lighting store and a very pleasant consultation with the designer Adir resulted in a solution that is a compromise between husband, wife, and pocketbook, but everyone is happy so far. It’s fun to look at an array of light fixtures, design catalogs, and photo books of interior design.

Moonlight Mele on the Lawn concert. Saturday night’s program of performing arts at the Bishop Museum featured the Tau Dance Theater, Kaukahi, John Cruz, Halau Mohala Ilima, Samadhi Hawaii aerial silk trapeze, and Ledward Kaapana. Each performed first-class numbers. Three of the groups were new to me, impressive and enjoyable. With summer here there are lots of concerts to choose from. Besides taking in the music, I noticed things like the visual form of the dance, costuming, lighting (again), sound, logistical set-up, and audience reaction.

Alumni art show. This isn’t the first year of an alumni art show at my high school, but it is the first time I’m exhibiting there. It’s open just a few hours during the alumni kick-off event this coming week and a couple of hours during the luau itself. I am planning to work the show, taking a look at other alumni artists’ artwork. Today I delivered the new still lifes, all at special Punahou alumni reduced prices. If  seeing the show June 10 or 12 interests you (the event represents about 30 artists), please contact me, and I will get back to you with information.

Going to Kauai. Plans to entertain visiting relatives include a trip to Kauai. It’s a brief two-day, one-night whirlwind tour of the island, and we’ll all be tourists. It has been so long since us local folks were last there. Hey, it’s summertime! You have to go somewhere!

Garden maintenance. Might sound boring and too much like work, but this is a type of meditation for me. Since pruning the hedge, I’m thrilled to see the ocean and the sky from the studio. The shorter hedge is in better scale for our lot and the street, there’s more air and light for both us and the neighbors, and more sunshine for the vegetable garden. In the renewed view plane ma uka (toward the mountains) I now see the fruit trees in the landscape beyond as well as two lava rock faces in the mountains.

Loving a parade or two. Kamehameha Day is observed this Saturday, June 12, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the annual floral parade, but I heard the route is changed from previous years. It will start on Ala Moana near Fort DeRussy and go in the ewa direction, turn right at Punchbowl street, then left on King street to Iolani Palace. This parade is the best opportunity to see the pau (pronounced pahh-oo) riders, women on horseback representing the various islands of Hawaii with their colorful skirts and elaborate floral lei. DH and I will put in some community service with Koolauloa Hawaiian Civic Club in the hot dogs-and-hamburgers booth on the palace grounds. The following day, June 13, I’d love to take in the Pan-Pacific evening parade, from 5 to 7 p.m. as it processes through Waikiki down Kalakaua avenue.

It’s a good time to change it up. I’ll see you!

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

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